Republicans In Alabama And Mississippi Still Think Obama Is A Muslim

Jonathan Chait picks up on another piece of data from the Public Policy Polling polls of Alabama and Mississippi that I wrote about earlier this morning:

PPP asks Republicans in Alabama, “Do you think Barack Obama is a Christian or a Muslim, or are you not sure?” Guess how many say Christian? 14%! Among the remaining 86%, “Muslim” slightly leads “not sure,” 45%-41%. (“Not sure” may by the demographic Rick Santorum is reaching out to when he accuses Obama of peddling a “phony theology.”)

But the Alabama Republicans are a thoroughly trusting lot in comparison with their Mississippi brethren. Among Mississippi Republicans, just 12% say Christian, 52% say Muslim, and 36% aren’t sure.

The poll also finds that two-thirds of the Republicans in both states do not believe in evolution. Two-thirds of Alabama Republicans also believe interracial marriage ought to be legal, compared with 54% of Mississippi Republicans. Progress!

The evolution thing is distressing but not surprising. We’ve seen numerous polls showing that Americans remain strangely attracted to a Creation Myth that is refuted by all manner of scientific evidence, not to mention logic. Given that Republicans tend to be more religious, and more religiously conservative, than Democrats, especially in the south, it’s not surprising to see a number that high. Like I said, it’s distressing but it is what it is.

But how to explain the religion thing? Is it a regional thing, or something peculiar to these two states? It’s probable that you won’t find Republicans in, say, New Jersey or Massachusetts holding the same views in those kind of numbers, so possibly it is. Even if you question PPP’s survey methods, it’s fairly clear that this absurd myth has a high number of adherents in certain parts of the country. That’s pretty pathetic.

FILED UNDER: 2012 Election, Public Opinion Polls, Religion, US Politics, , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Mark says:

    Doug, I know you don’t give much credence to the race aspect of the anti-Obama factions out there but I don’t know where else to go with this info. It seems to me that people are equating Muslim = black= bad. I dont know how else to look at this.

    Do ALL people who oppose President Obama do it on racial grounds? Of course not. But I can’t help but think that polling like this gives a ton of weight to the idea that many do hate him because he is black. At least in Mississippi and Alabama.

  2. @Mark:

    Given the answers about inter-racial marriage in the quoted text, I don’t doubt that you could be correct.

  3. michael reynolds says:

    What Mark said.

    It’s as plain as day. It couldn’t be more obvious. But of course conservatives can never quite bring themselves to admit that the GOP is the home of racists in America.

    It’s race. Of course it’s race. OBVIOUSLY it’s race.

  4. Once again I have to wonder if ending slavery was worth the cost of having to accept the Confederacy back into the country.

  5. Ron Beasley says:

    Republicans In Alabama And Mississippi Still Think The World Is Flat and Created in 6 days.

  6. Patrick says:

    In defense of Alabama & Mississippi (sort of), 52% of all Republicans are … creationists, and only 16% of all Americans believe God had no part in evolution. .

  7. sam says:

    What else would you expect from the United States of Peckerwoodia?

  8. PogueMahone says:

    @Doug Mataconis:
    Given the answers about inter-racial marriage in the quoted text, I don’t doubt that you could be correct.

    Why do you assume there is a correlation that 2/3 of these Republicans (OMG!!) believe inter-racial marriage “ought to be legal” and the hypothesis that they hate Obama because he’s black?

    First of all, it is disturbing that at least 1/3 believe that miscegenation ought to be illegal. Secondly, just because one believes miscegenation ought not be illegal doesn’t mean one believes that it is right. And finally, if one believes that miscegenation should be legal doesn’t mean that one does not dislike members of another ethnicity, race, creed, social class, etc….

    Your objection is overruled. 😉


  9. PogueMahone says:

    @PogueMahone: Okay, I should have read Doug’s post more carefully. I made a mistake and I apologize. Feel free to thumbs down my careless response.

    Carry on.
    (Boy, if there ever was a time for a “delete post” button)


  10. al-Ameda says:

    Yet more evidence that Lincoln made a big mistake when he did not
    let the South leave the Union.

  11. Fiona says:

    Willful ignorance–apparently it’s another one of those Southern traditions that they’re so loathe to give up.

  12. Franklin says:

    Where do these people get their information from?

  13. Herb says:

    But how to explain the religion thing?

    You know, let’s call it what it is. Stupidity.

    Now, the racism theory may be correct, but racism in itself is…stupid. Stupidity accounts for both the racism and the fact-free beliefs. Indeed, these polls might as well say “45% of Alabama Republicans are idiots.”

    Distressing? That’s putting it lightly.

  14. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Most Republicans in the Deep South are dissociative Bible bots. Elsewhere it’s a far different demographic. If this poll were taken of Republicans in California the results would be night and day.

    There’s also a facade component to some of these responses. A lot of evangelical Southerners who say they think Obama is a Muslim really are saying in stealth fashion they don’t like him because of his skin color.

    There are two ironic components of this whole issue, neither of which will receive the coverage nor the analyses they deserve.

    The first is that from the Republican standpoint Obama’s religion should be a red herring. For someone who really holds conservative positions it shouldn’t matter whether Obama is a Christian, a Jew, a Muslim, a Hindu, a Buddhist, a Scientologist, or hell, an Atheist. Obama’s domestic policy record alone would be enough for any conservative thinker to oppose him. Thing is, a lot of putative conservatives out there are not really conservatives, save for a couple of distinct social issues. It’s a dirty secret of the erstwhile evangelical base of the GOP: a material percentage of them mostly are liberal. The Muslim thing is a justification process. For many evangelicals there are very few policy points of Obama’s with which they disagree.

    The second major irony is that with Romney having sewed up the GOP nomination a huge number of evangelicals will sit out the November election. This especially will be true in the Southern Bible Belt. All of the angst about Obama? All of the enmity? All of the antipathy? He’s a Muslim, he wants abortion on demand, he’s trampling on Christian freedoms, blah, blah, blah, yada, yada. In the end it’ll all be window dressing. Millions of these folks will be casting de facto ballots for Obama’s reelection.

  15. Eric says:

    Doesn’t this just depress the hell out of you…

  16. george says:

    How was this poll conducted? If it was a land-line, telephone poll then it would be heavily biased towards the elderly and unemployed – especially since a lot of folks (myself included) no longer answer phone numbers we don’t recognize because we figure it’ll be a robo-call. Of those who answered Muslim, I have no difficulty believing their driving force is racism.

    Same for the question of evolution – folks answering a land line to an unrecognized phone number are more likely to be less educated than the general public.

    Just on general principle, I’d look a bit more carefully into how the poll was conducted before making any sweeping conclusions.

  17. Tillman says:

    I don’t get it. Do these people think Jeremiah Wright was a Muslim?

    How do you attack a presidential candidate for attending a Christian church with a bombastic preacher and also say he’s Muslim? How?! The cognitive dissonance required is nothing short of terrifying.

  18. Anderson says:

    Since these are my neighbors, I take a morbid interest in such polls.

    Looking at the internals, the MS number on interracial marriage is dragged down heavily by the 65+ crowd, only 35% of whom think it should be legal. Their generation is on its way out.

    Re: evolution, hell, what do you expect? It’s scarcely taught in schools down here – the marvel is that anyone *does* have a clue about biology (or economics, a subject likely to be taught to impatient seniors in one semester by a man named “Coach” who disparages the content of the textbook in favor of his own theory of household economics writ large).

    About the best thing I can say is that Santorum is running 3rd here. Tho I’m not sure how many Mississippi GOP voters know that Newt is a Catholic nowadays.

  19. michael reynolds says:


    It is generational. Which is why eventually AL and MS will be Democratic.

  20. Rob Prather says:

    @michael reynolds: @Anderson: It is generational. As a native Mississippian, I’ve seen it first hand. The old folks will have to die for it to get fixed.

  21. An Interested Party says:

    The cognitive dissonance required is nothing short of terrifying.

    We’ll be greeted as liberators, tax cuts pay for themselves, etc….

  22. Greg says:

    @PogueMahone: No need to delete a post when someone can see they made an error and correct it. Your me culpa is quite refreshing on the Internet of Today.

  23. James says:

    As a young Mississippian I think to be perfectly honest our state is shifting more towards a libertarian posture. At least among the younger voting block.